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Google responds to accusations of ads tracking data of children

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Google, the parent company of YouTube, responded to a report that suggested YouTube advertisers are sourcing data from children viewing videos on the platform. 

On Aug. 18, a day after the report surfaced, Google posted a blog reinstating its “strict privacy standards around made for kids content,” which is content marked on YouTube that is created to be viewed by children.

The BigTech giant said it has focused on creating kid-specific products like YouTube Kids and supervised accounts.

“We’ve invested a great deal of time and resources to protect kids on our platforms, especially when it comes to the ads they see…”

It also said it launched a restriction worldwide for personalized ads and age-sensitive ad categories for its users under 18.

It also said it launched a restriction worldwide for personalized ads and age-sensitive ad categories for its users under 18. Additionally, the post clarified that it does not allow third-party trackers on ads that appear on kids’ content. 

Nonetheless, Adalytics, a data analysis and transparency platform, on Aug. 17 published the 206-page report alleging that advertisers on YouTube could be “inadvertently harvesting data from millions of children.”

Some of the claims made by the report include the presence of cookies indicating a “breakdown” of privacy and YouTube creating an “undisclosed persistent, immutable unique identifier” that gets transmitted to servers even on made-for-kids videos with no clarity on why it’s collecting it.

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An article from the New York Times also reported on the research from Adalytics, specifically highlighting an instance where an adult-targeted ad from a Canadian bank was shown to a viewer on a video label for kids.

Adalytics reported that since that viewer clicked on the ad, tracking software from Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with companies, was tagged on the user’s browser.

Concerns around Google’s privacy and data collection standards have been raised in recent months, as the company has been releasing more products with artificial intelligence (AI) incorporated.

On July 11, Google was hit with a lawsuit over its new AI data-scraping privacy policy updates, with the prosecutors saying its representing millions of users who have had their privacy and property rights violated due to the changes. 

Less than a month later, a report was published that analyzed AI-powered extensions for Google’s internet browser Chrome, which said two-thirds could endanger user security.

Most recently, on Aug. 15, Google introduced a series of enhancements for its search engine that incorporate advanced generative AI features.

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